Rethinking film marketing & distribution beyond box office

MUMBAI: The speedy growth in movie business’ ancillary streams such as home video, internet and mobile have redefined movie marketing and distribution, restructured revenue realization potential and prompted the industry to look beyond the box office.

On the one hand, box office collections are growing, while on the other, revenues from home video and internet too have begun to contribute marginally to the net collections of a movie.

Does one medium compliment or cannibalize the other medium, and to what extent? How will content have to be marketed for various such old and new platforms? In the long run, will the growth in ancillary streams eat into theatrical revenue shares or will theatrical release of a movie compliment the ancillary streams?

These issues were addressed in FICCI FRAMES by key industry professionals such as Sony Pictures’ Uday Singh, Rajshri Media’s MD Rajjat Barjatya, Mates CEO Darshana Bhalla, Reliance Big Entertainment’s filmed entertainment CMO Saurabh Varma, Jaman.com CEO Gaurav Dhillon and Toronto Film Festival co-director Cameron Bailey in a session moderated by Moser Baer Entertainment CEO Harish Dayani.

Barjatya said, "It is necessary to take the film to a wide audience quickly on various platforms and monetize their consumption as shelf life films are reducing drastically and conventional box office is not helping entirely, because India is an under-screened country. The revenue split between theatrical and other mediums during Hum Apke Hain Kaun release was in the ratio of 85:15, during Vivaah it was 50:50 and going forward it will become 25:75 ratio. Going forward, box office will be most important strategically and not financially."

"One should not delay the release of movies on non theatrical platforms because it gives leeway to pirates," added Dayani.

On a slightly different note Singh commented, "It is not fair to neglect the traditional medium only because release windows for other platforms are shrinking. A movies value is built most at the box office, therefore only after the film is established at the box office should it be taken across other platforms to further leverage the value. Also this gap gives you time to make alterations depending on the audience’s reaction towards a movie."

Commenting on the marketing of films Varma opined, "Marketing is virtually the last thing on a content creator’s mind. It is now imperative to make marketing a pre-planned effort and leverage it across best available platforms."

Citing Om Shanti Om’s case in point for marketing, Bhalla added, "Om Shanti Om garnered media worth of Rs 18 crores through branded alliances, which helped to market the movie. Producers in Bollywood still do not allocate such budgets for movie marketing, it comes from external alliances." In-film placements, merchandising, branded associations, movie websites, digital downloads and in-flight ads are some of the emerging marketing streams.

"Film festivals can also work as an effective tool in the marketing of films, especially in the west. They help in promoting the theatrical release of a movie," said Cameron.

New marketing platforms as well as content exploitation platforms have been emerging. While some believe that more and more ‘out of the box’ promotion and marketing is required to ensure a wide release of a film across platforms, others believe that the theatrical release of a film can by itself serve as the biggest marketing tool.

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